I’ve just spent a day and a half mulching the garlic. That’s a lot of time to roundly curse the entire damned process, growing vegetables generally, all members of the allium family particularly and each individual bulb specifically. Needless to say, this isn’t my favourite job. But it got me to thinking about the necessity of the process, both to regulate soil moisture and to control weeds (garlic is famously picky about its bed-fellows) and from there I began to compose a rant about there being a very good reason why organic, locally grown produce is more expensive than stuff grown in China. And from there I began to question how they actually grow garlic in China anyway. A little bit of googling will go a long way in this world…..

  • China grows around half a million tonnes of garlic a year (the next largest producer is the USA, with 70 000 tonnes. That’s a big gap to second place…)
  • Australia imports approximately 90% of its garlic from China.
  •  The stuff in the supermarket is often last year’s crop which has been picked early, kept in cold storage and treated with growth inhibitors to stop it sprouting. Gamma radiation (good grief!) is also used to inhibit growth and development (and presumably not only in the garlic….)
  • It’s probably also been bleached and has definitely (as is legally required by Australian quarantine laws) been fumigated with methyl bromide to kill any residual insect or fungal pests.
  • Methyl bromide is commonly used in refrigerant; as a fire extinguishing agent; for degreasing wool; and for extracting oils from nuts. It’s toxic to both humans and animals causing chemical burns, kidney damage and damage to the central nervous system. It has been linked to the death of port workers in New Zealand who suffered from motor neurone disease thought to be caused by continued methyl bromide exposure.
  • A fair wack of garlic grown in China is fertilised with untreated human sewerage. DELICIOUS!

I’d also be prepared to bet that the labourers working to produce all this cheap garlic are not enjoying even reasonable working conditions. So from the folks growing it, to the shipping workers getting sick handling it, to the consumers getting a bland, toxic, year old product it doesn’t seem to me like anyone’s winning.

All of which makes me feel much, much better about busting my arse to get all our little bulbs nicely tucked up in their mulchy beds.



Grow well, little guys.

Methyl bromide:


Ghandi ruled Rockford with an iron paw for many a year until her demise some 15-ish years ago. Since then she has watched over us all from the rafters in cellar door where she horrifies and charms the punters in equal measure.

On a slow day recently we got her down out of the rafters and gave her a face lift (literally). After a wash, a reverse bow dry/vacuum and a little bit of handy work from yours truly, she looked like a new cat.

To anyone else, this is a bit of cheap fake fur wrapped around some chicken wire. To me, Ghandi is sacred.

A few things around here at the moment….

Beginning the measurements for the hoop house – when oh when will I find the time to make this happen?

The garlic is up! hooray! (and phew! I was getting worried there for a moment…)

Jams for sale at the local Gardening Club night.

Finding bird’s nests in the vines while we prune.

My sister bringing me lunch at work – a ploughman’s platter and bread and butter pudding, thankyouverymuch.



I grew up in a valley where we lived half way up a pretty sizeable hill. In the mornings walking to school in winter, we would walk the rest of the way up the hill, out of the fog and be able to see just the tip of the hill we were standing on and the top of the next hill in front of us. They looked like islands floating in this incredible gossamar sea of mist. I will always remember the feeling of walking down into the fog, feeling the little droplets on my cheeks and my fingers burning in the cold and then reaching the top of the next hill, almost popping out into the clear sky again.

I don’t think I could live anywhere other than in a valley, with the constantly changing light on the hills and the foggy, misty mornings.

It really feels like winter here at the moment. The freezing nights give way to crystal clear, blue sky days and the warmer nights bring heavy, lolling mists in the morning. The Farmer prunes regardless, and I relive my childhood memories.


A list of things for which the writer is currently grateful….

  • remembering (at 9.30pm last night) that we have reverse cycle ducted air conditioning. Heavenly.
  • having an amazing part time job where I get treated with respect and paid ridiculous amounts on public holidays. Being a part of my family business.
  • the wonderful Farmer who bought lunch for both myselfandmy sister to work today ♥
  • huge blue skies
  • custard tarts
  • wood fires – and the smoke that goes along with them
  • fresh coffee
  • The Big Things.

The hoop house

I’ve found a few great websites out there to help in the Great Building Of The Hoop House and rather than continuing to google them each time I want to check them again I’m going to drop them all in here:

The Door Garden –> really detailed pictures which for a newbie like me is pretty much essential. It also has a sub-article on building the doors. At this stage I’m looking at inserting an industrial zip but it’s good to know….

What about a hoop house modelled on the one built by Michelle Obama on the White House lawn…?

Very clear drawings of construction bones.

A link with even more links!



I have an abiding and passionate love for Radio National. In fact, in the last few months it has almost completely replaced Triple J as my radio station of first thought – a sign of true adulthood, perhaps?

I haven’t ever really listened to By Design, purely because I’m not often around a radio when it’s on, but this morning on the way to the Farmer’s Market it was playing in the car and lo and behold, there was David Holmgren talking about permaculture.

Here’s the link.

He’s a great guy, a passionate speaker and really, really knows his stuff. Wonderful.